Getting chili pepper seeds started

I love being the guy with the hot chili at cookoffs, bringing stuffed peppers to work parties and having an assortment of great peppers for BBQs and soups.

The hard thing about the good and really hot peppers is getting them started, or germinated. There are many scientists, chemists and internet pepper masters out there that all have their own way of tweaking chemicals, light, fertilizers etc. but I just do it with dirt and sun.
This year’s seeds include:
100 red ghost
10 yellow Trinidad
20 white habanero
10 white ghost
25 orange habs
20 red congo trinidad
20 Prarie fire
20 black marble

The hardest part I find, is getting them to srpout or germinate. Hot peppers won’t just pop up in cold dirt on a window sill like jack’s magic beans. You have to get them warm and wet. last year I used a computer-controlled warming method. This year I’m using low-tech.

Here’s what I am using this year:

20×20 germination (warming) mat.

Two jiffy trays with peat pellets

Miracle-Gro moisture control soil

Red, yellow, orange, white and black solo cups to color-match the seedlings!

I usually run 75% or greater germination and of those 75%, 80% of the seedlings survive the transplants and live on to bear fruit. I have  big sliding glass doors so I can put tables full of seedlings in front of them until spring and they get plenty of light until I put them outside for the year. There are of course better ways to get higher percentages of survivors but I think y results provide pretty good bang for the buck

First soak your seeds for a day or so. This will soften them up and help them germinate. Also get your pellets wet so they get nice and fluffy and moist for the seeds. Then get your mat and trays ready and label the lids with which kinds of seeds you are planting if you are planting more than one. I usually separate mine with a blank row.  Put your soft seeds maybe 3/8″ deep and cover them into the pellets.

Keep them covered with the plastic lid and in about a week, I have little hooks and sprouts going.

Once the sprouts get up to 4 leaves, I transplant them into the solo cups, I take the net off the peat pellet and put it all in the moisture control solo cups. I punch holes in the bottoms first so the cups don’t hold water if they get over watered. I like to use color-coded cups… red for ghost, orange for orange habs, white for the white peppers, etc..

I do pretty much the same thing every year and have plenty of peppers and make regular pulls every couple of weeks from late summer through fall:

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